Where I work, white noise is pumped in to make it harder to hear people farther away from you. When I first moved to my previous building where there was no white noise for a few days, you could hear anything anyone said all the way at the other side of the floor. It was strange. It was distracting. I was reminded of the Jim Carrey movie “Bruce Almighty” where he gets to play God and hears all the prayers of people coming at him at once. That’s what the floor felt like without the white noise.
Then when they added white noise, we thought it was deafening at first, like some constant dull roar that we would always find bothersome. Yet before long it was not noticeable at all. We got used to it.
Today for a short while the white noise was absent. Suddenly we could hear conversations going on all around that we wouldn’t normally hear. Jokingly, the person across from me exclaimed “I can’t work in these conditions!” I thought about the old cartoon with the hibernating bear being disturbed by some slight sound and then yelling “I can’t stand noise!”
It wasn’t too many minutes before the white noise came roaring back. People sighed with relief that it was no longer quiet. A lady on the other side of me then countered the earlier neighbor’s comment by saying of the white noise “I can’t work in these conditions!” We all laughed and went on about our business.
People have different tolerance levels for noise, whether for work or pleasure or even sleep. Some work with earphones listening to their favorite music. Some like the TV or music on at home as background noise regardless of what they’re doing. Some like a fan blowing while they sleep regardless of the room temperature.
I find that for some tasks it is OK to have background noise, while for others I need silence to concentrate. I’m turning off the TV more and more in order to focus on tasks more important.
Consider the possibility that on occasion you will hear best in the silence. Leap year lesson #41 is Know when to adjust the volume.